This year was so exciting because two of my colleagues and I led an after school program called “Half-Pint Poetry”. It’s a spoken word group for our fifth graders, mentored by high schoolers in which students create original poetry, learn how to get free and perform it for the public. And it gets so REAL in this group. It is a place in which students have a chance to be safe and free to say anything on their mind and if you knew my students, you’d know they have a lot to say about life – things I am naive to and learned so much about. This year they also held the first ever elementary vs elementary school poetry slam, competed for the golden boombox and we WON. Our poets spit fire and so did every single other school representing. But the boombox isn’t the point – it’s the poetry and the impact these kind of programs have for our students. I can’t even begin to put into words the movement Half-Pints made for our students and us, as educators.
But the point of this post isn’t to rave about the amazing program (well, actually it is) but more so the visual artwork that we aligned with it and students collaborated to make. The school counselor and I had a group of leadership students design a project that would engage the community, promote literacy and put the work of our Half-Pints into legacy form for many years to come.
Born from this group was a set of benches and a Little Free Library that would be placed for our students to enjoy. The leadership group worked hard to get into action, painting 8 cedar posts an array of colors and working on their leadership skills, including some goal setting. My amazing husband welded the frames, free of charge, for the benches.
From there, our poets chose their favorite original lines that would inspire anyone who came across the benches and we wrote them onto the benches, clear coating them so the words would stay forever.
Finally, one of our community partners, I Have a Dream Foundation, donated a Little Free Library that a local artist painted. Together, all of the pieces created a BEAUTIFUL community area for our families and students to access free books, read inspiring words by our students and relax.
By far, it clocks in as one of my FAVORITE collaborative projects to date. Our amazing District Facilities department took care of installation. Students did a dedication ceremony in which they each spoke a sentence or two about how either leadership or Half-Pint poetry has impacted them as leaders. On the last day of school for the year, hours after installation, the library was already empty of books and students were found enjoying the books. Stop by Findley Elementary to relax!